Adopting A Servant Leadership Mentality In 2019
It’s 2019, and with the new year comes new goals, opportunities and, most importantly, a fresh mindset.
As we saw throughout 2018, a theme that's finally at the forefront is humanity. This year will be the year the pendulum swings back to our core DNA, which is to help each other and educate one another. We are all leaders, but it is how we lead that matters. This article will coach you on how to do that through servant leadership.
According to the Greenleaf Institute for Servant Leadership, servant leadership is "a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world." At its core, servant leadership is giving everyone the opportunity, path and spirit to learn and help others do amazing things.
I read a great book in 2018 called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which outlines the many paths to becoming a servant leader in the military. What keeps all these leaders keen in their skill sets is how they apply servant leadership in different scenarios with different people and agendas. Crucial to all this is having a servant leadership mentality.
Here's how to do so:
1. Lead with values.
What are the values that make you tick and that benefit others even more than yourself?
To find out, reflect on times when you were the happiest and who was there with you. What were the core feelings you had in these moments of happiness? Those feelings can be translated into values. Much like they made you happy, you will continue to be happy when others are displaying them as well and feeling successful and empowered.
Start every meeting with a check in and find out if the person you are meeting with is mad, glad or sad. This knowledge can help you lead this person in a direction that wins for both. If you don’t know how your people are doing, you won't know how they will perform. Ensure performance is married to your values.
2. Lead with reflection.
Servant leadership is about knowing, understanding and creating paths for people to follow you on. In order to do this, you need to know what's working and not working.
What are the core components that led you to success? Prioritize the things that will help you continue on this path with your team. Your core is based on a reflection of past occurrences that will help you navigate the future.
A way to do this is through monthly "start, stop and continue" exercises with your team. As a team, reflect on and ask about what things you need to start doing to continue on this path together. These can be new ideas or ways of working and communicating as it provides a safe and supportive space. Next, reflect with your team on what things you need to continue to do. What are the things that got you where you are now and inspired you to create and innovate? Lastly, what do you need to stop doing that may be an unhealthy practice or that leads to uncertainty, frustration and negativity?
3. Open the Johari Window.
The Johari Window is a simple and useful tool for understanding your own self-awareness and improving communications and group dynamics with others. It includes four quadrants, of which information is:
• Known to others, and known to self (Open Area)
• Known to self, but not known to others (Hidden Area)
• Known to others, but not known to self (Blind Spot)
• Not known to others, and not known to self (Unknown)
The Johari exercise helps put into perspective how you work and communicate with others and how you continue to improve and build trust with your team. When you focus on the needs of your team, you will continue to deliver success through the inputs they provide. By opening the window, you let others in to help you continue to learn and grow, which provides more opportunity to deliver and execute in a cohesive way that benefits all.
4. Embrace volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), and flip it.
We experience VUCA daily when things aren't going our way. It's a just craziness and angst that leads to indecisiveness, fear and bad decision making.
The path to reset and balance VUCA is by embracing it. Goals may not change, but it's how we tackle them that matters. Many challenges unexpectedly happen along the way, and the key to flipping VUCA is seeing when things are not working and discussing those challenges and outcomes. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity then turn into vision, unity, clarity and agility. Assess your current state, and start building a bridge to your future state.
By flipping VUCA as a servant leader, you're providing a beacon of hope for others even when there are struggles. It is about understanding how to reset the fears of your team and turn them into opportunity. When faced with danger, we all react and stress. A servant leader does also, but they are thinking about the team and not themselves. A servant leader sets the way by thinking about themselves second and their people first.
Ultimately, when you serve others, they will serve you. That’s servant leadership.
This article was originally published on Forbes